Watershed Governance
Measures the percent of Canada’s 25 major watersheds which have a mechanism to support watershed governance.

Getting data to report on this impact measure is a work in progress. This shared measurement system belongs to all members of the Our Living Water Network, so if you have any data or ideas to share with us on this measure, please send us an email at info@ourlivingwaters.ca.

Overview

Governance deals with the way decisions are made and upheld. Watershed governance - the ways decisions are made and upheld within a watershed - informs how well our water is managed. Most of Canada’s 25 major watersheds do not fit into one province or region. Watersheds are commonly dissected by these regional, provincial and international political boundaries. The unintended result: no one entity is typically in charge of the watershed as a whole. Instead, small pockets of the watershed are managed independently - most often defined by the jurisdictional confines of various federal, provincial and local government agencies - with inadequate consideration for the other parts. Too often we see decisions in one area literally flow downstream to impact another. What’s lost is governance that supports the ecological integrity of the entire watershed.

Aligning many jurisdictions in co-governance is complex work. In order to overcome this fragmentation, a formal mechanism is needed to drive levels of government towards governing at a watershed scale. These mechanisms may take one of many forms, such as a watershed institution or transboundary water board; an interjurisdictional watershed agreement or policy; or a common vision or framework for the whole watershed.

A case study in good watershed level governance is the Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Waters Master Agreement. The model represents a cooperative, intergovernmental agreement endorsed by the governments of the Northwest Territories, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Canada. This agreement encourages neighbouring provinces/territories to enter into bilateral agreements to support implementation of the Master Agreement. For a detailed look at one of these bilateral agreements, check out the guidebook released by the OLW Network member, FLOW (Forum for Leadership on Water): Transcending Boundaries: A Guidebook to the Alberta-Northwest Territories Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreement.

To gain data for this impact measure, we conducted a desktop assessment of Canada's 25 major watersheds searching for the existence of a watershed governance mechanism to support watershed governance. 

The detailed results of this desktop assessment can be seen in this Google Sheet

Please note, there are a number of limitations to acknowledge from this research:

  • There are many types of 'watershed governance mechanisms' to consider across the country, and in order for us to 'count' one, it needed to fall into one of the following categories: Watershed Institution or Transboundary Water Board; Interjurisdictional Watershed Agreement or Policy; or, Common Vision or Framework for the Watershed. Mechanisms which we included and 'counted', and those we did not 'count' was made using our best judgement and we recognize that not all may agree with each decision we made.
  • Our accounting of watershed governance mechanisms does not include a detailed analysis of how qualitatively effective the mechanism is at supporting watershed governance or the ecological integrity of the whole watershed.
  • Canada is a large country, and conducting a desktop assessment into all its watersheds is likely to contain errors, and potentially missed watershed governance mechanisms. As always, if you see any errors or omissions, please let us know through email (info@ourlivingwaters.ca)

5-Year target: To see this impact measure increase over time, with more watershed governance mechanisms in Canada's 25 major watersheds

Last updated January, 2019

Note: The data presented here represents our best research given the time and resources at hand. We acknowledge there may be errors. This shared measurement system belongs to all members of the Our Living Water Network, so if you have any corrections for us, or ideas to share on this measure, please send us an email at info@ourlivingwaters.ca.

Watershed Governance|Measures the percent of Canada’s 25 major watersheds which have a mechanism to support watershed governance.
Watershed Governance|Measures the percent of Canada’s 25 major watersheds which have a mechanism to support watershed governance.
Imagine a Canada where all waters are in good health: